"All the measures announced so far by the government are inadequate compared to those adopted in Spain, Portugal's biggest competitor in terms of production," warns the Association for the Promotion of Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers of Portugal. They added that until June exports grew 16% in value and 14% in volume, respectively, to 939 million euros and almost 805 thousand tons.

Portugal Fresh also calls for a "fairer distribution of production value" in the agri-food chain, with a "better remuneration" to producers.

As for the destination countries of national exports, it indicates that Spain is the largest buyer of Portuguese fruits, vegetables and flowers, with 29% of total exports, followed by France (13.5%) and the Netherlands (13.5%), Germany (8.5%) and the United Kingdom (7.8%).

In the global scenario, the European Union is the sector's main market and represents 81% of the total value of exports.

However, if the price per kilogram (kg) of exported products is analysed, the results show that "growth is not enough to offset rising costs and inflation," reads the statement.

It is also noted that the value per kilogram in the first half increased only 1.3 percent.

For the president of Portugal Fresh, Gonçalo Santos Andrade, these are "record results" at the level of exports of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

However, he believes that these results "can only be maintained" with the strengthening of international promotion initiatives, investment in production and a "true appreciation" of this sector, which is "strategic to the economy".

Despite saying that the indicators "are positive", he warns that we cannot forget that the agri-food sector "faces an unprecedented crisis" with the rising costs of energy, fuel, fertilizers, and other raw materials. Simultaneously, the extreme drought that has affected the country from north to south.

For Portugal Fresh it is necessary to "mitigate the effects of drought" that affects the entire national territory and it is equally urgent to modernise the hydro-agricultural exploitation, as well as to create ponds and dams, which are "vital" to overcome the impacts of climate change.

"Portuguese products are in great demand in the international market, and if we don't renew and modernise the existing irrigation perimeters and create new ones, countries in the southern latitude of Europe will take advantage of our lack of strategy for irrigation," warns Gonçalo Santos de Andrade.

Portugal Fresh has an ongoing Joint Internationalization Project 2022/2023 supported by Portugal 2020 - Competitiveness and Internationalization Operational Program, which includes an overall investment of 948,900.85 euros, 54 percent funded by FEDER - European Regional Development Fund.